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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Transcript of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
What is it?
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the enormous effects of the substance will change the growth and development of the child. This happens both physically and mentally, and often one or the other.
What does it look like?
Symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome can include physical deformities, mental difficulties, learning disorders, vision impairments, and behavioral problems. Many people associate FAS with the physical facial attributes that often accompany it, but it is very easy to have no outward symptoms and be very affected by the condition.
How is it caused?
When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it runs through her bloodstream and through the placenta to the baby. The baby’s body is smaller and less tolerant of alcohol (to an extreme degree) and the alcohol also blocks nutrients and oxygen flow to the fetus.
How can it be treated?
There is no known cure for FAS. There are certain procedures to help with certain heart defects or organ problems, but no medical solutions to the behavioral problems.
Many people come in contact with a child that has FAS and point the blame towards the mother. Sometimes they assume she was drinking continuously during her term. The fact that she drank alcohol during her pregnancy does not mean she is an alcoholic, and it does not mean she neglected her child maliciously.
It is common for FAS to occur when the mother drinks before she knows she is pregnant at all. It is true that alcoholic mothers are most likely to give birth to a child with FAS, but it is not any indication of lack of care for her unborn child. Mothers with FAS children should not be looked down on. They want the best for thier children and everyday life is a struggle for them.
This can happen at any time of a pregnancy, and it is especially dangerous during the first few weeks and months. This can cause problems because the mother might not know she is pregnant.
So far there is no known level of alcohol that is safe for a baby during pregnancy. The medical professionals have strongly urged women who are thinking they might be pregnant or are trying to be pregnant to abstain from any alcohol whatsoever. Even a glass of wine during pregnancy can have effects for the child, and it is vital to keep away from all alcohol during the duration of pregnancy.
How it is discovered
FAS is usually detected when a child is born, especially because of the facial and physical deformities. However, the children born with no outside indications of FAS may be diagnosed much later than others. Children with solely behavioral symptoms will sometimes not be diagnosed at all.
This can cause problems with parenting, schoolwork, and relations with siblings and friends. The diagnosis shows that there are reasons that the child will not react conventionally to things such as punishment or discipline. This is because of the FAS symptoms.
Behavior with FAS
Behavioral issues that are presented by FAS children are complex and vary immensely from child to child. Things that are hard for them include tying actions to consequences, and knowing social and physical boundaries.
History of FAS
Going widely unnoticed until 1973, it was discovered by two doctors in Seattle that finally tied a certain group of children born with facial differences and behavioral tendencies to the amounts of alcohol their mothers drank.
This idea was presented when a cluster of women who had used a drug called thalidomide as a remedy for morning sickness found their children were being born with severe birth defects. This is the first time the concept of chemicals a mother used during pregnancy affected fetal development. The thalidomide scare in the 60's produced an awareness in mothers that paved the way for the idea of FAS.
Dr. Jones and Dr. Smith of the University of Washington Medical Center were the two doctors responsible for discovering FAS and publishing it as a medical journal in 1973. They studied eight children, all born from alcoholic mothers, and found the same cognitive issues in each child.
Some children with FAS would be what we would call obnoxious or attention-seeking. This is not because they are being intentionally overbearing, but it is the way they feel they need to act to get any affection. This attribute makes it hard for them to behave appropriately at school and other public activities. They also have a tendency to pressure and push to get their way, which sounds like a normal child, but you will notice they do this past the usual limits and boundaries the parent puts in place. This makes it hard for babysitters to control the children and often leaves the parents very burdened and weary.
Actions and consequences, action and reaction, cause and effect, these are all concepts that are very foreign to kids with FAS. * When you punish a child with FAS, this is presented as a rejection and as abuse from the child. They have a hard time connecting the discipline with something they did wrong. This makes regular parenting ineffective and difficult for both parties.
When a child is diagnosed with FAS, it is important for the parent to learn how the condition works, and how their child learns and in what environment they function best. This way, they can learn to act and react in ways that help their child and not the usual ways a parent should. They often have to be okay with constant chaos and noise in their space, but they also have to learn how to calm their child at the appropriate time.
FAS kids are not retarded or intentionally neglected by their mothers. They need to learn differently and be disciplined differently, but they are very fun and very precious children. Every child with this condition has different behavioral tendencies and needs that are unique to them. It is important to remember their difficulties processing these concepts when dealing with them, but it helps to just be outgoing and friendly towards them.
Memory is very hard also, and it presents a struggle in classes. It takes immense repetition to learn something, and this often takes more time than the teacher has to give.